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Martin is a troubled young man. With a mother who insists on treating him like a child, a stepfather who can't wait to see the back of him, and a brother with Down's Syndrome shut away in an institution, is it any wonder he retreats into an alternate personality - that of six-year-old Georgie? It is Georgie who befriends Susan Harper, but friendship soon turns into obsession. When Susan begins to distance herself, something inside Georgie snaps and he embarks on a killing spree, with Susan as the next target. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
Ladies and gentlemen, because of the controversy already aroused, the producers of this film wish to re-emphasize what is already stated in the film, that there is no established scientific connection between Mongolism and psychotic or criminal behavior.
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Slightly misguided, but still works well as a psycho thriller
Twisted Nerve doesn't seem to have a great reputation, and while the film (like its lead character) certainly does have some problems, I enjoyed this one in spite of them. The main problem people seem to have with this film (so much so that the filmmakers actually had to tack on an apology before the film starts!) stems from the fact that it seems to be professing that siblings of mongoloid children were more likely to become psychopaths. This idea is somewhat silly and I can see why it would bother some people; but seriously, this is just a thriller and while the idea is unlikely and misguided, it didn't bother me too much. It also should be noted that 'nurture' plays a big part in the lead character's mental health problems. The film focuses on Martin Durnley. His mother treats him like a child, his stepfather dislikes him and his mongoloid brother is institutionalised. He meets a young girl named Susan Harper, who takes pity on him (or rather, his alternative personality 'Georgie') after a shoplifting incident. But this soon leads to obsession for the troubled young man...
If you go into this film expecting something deep or brilliant, you will be disappointed. As mentioned, the point that the film tries to make is not well imposed and not much else about the film has any depth. Still, as a thriller it works well. The main influence for the film is clearly Hitchcock's masterpiece 'Psycho' and the two share a lot in common. The central character is interesting for the fact that he's so strange. Hywel Bennett really succeeds in creating a character that is both bizarre and completely sinister. The supporting cast isn't as great in terms of performances, but the two leading ladies are much nicer to look at. Hayley Mills delivers the typical young British female lead, while Billie Whitelaw is the real standout for me as the young girl's mother. Twisted Nerve also features a memorable tune, and possibly takes influence from Fritz Lang's M as the lead character often whistles it. The film flows well throughout and delivers the intrigue from the character actions and the situation rather than through suspense. I can see why this film is not often hailed as a classic; but if you're looking for an interesting watch and don't care about some silly ideas, Twisted Nerve comes recommended.
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